Lakers guard Kobe Bryant addressed assembled media members during the Lakers annual media day. He answered questions about his health, his outlook on the season and what he expects out of some of the new additions on the team. Below is a transcription of his comments:
Q: On why he continues to play basketball, even after an injury like this:
Bryant: I enjoy playing. That’s the thing, I just love the game of basketball and I love everything that comes along with it. It’s very easy for me to get up in the morning and get to work.
Q: On his rehab during the summer:
Bryant: I’ve been here with Judy. Judy, she’s traveled with me absolutely everywhere and I’ve been with her here every single morning throughout the course of the summer, so it’s been good.
Q: On if this team will play with a chip on their shoulder considering where pundits believe they’ll finish:
Bryant: It comes with the territory. When you hear people always singing your praises, you got to find a chip from somewhere. So I think every team tries to do that. For us, I just think it’s very easy to find that chip.
Q: On the team’s expectations this year:
Bryant: Our expectations are always the same going into every single season: It’s to improve every day with the goal in mind of winning a championship. It doesn’t matter what anybody else is saying, that’s the goal that we have. But the only way that you can do that is by coming out every single day and putting the work in and understanding each other and how to support each other and things like that.
Q: On when he expects to return from his injury:
Bryant: My goal is to play tonight. So, it’s about being smart about it and pacing it the right way and just seeing how it does. It’s really a strength thing now and just seeing how the explosiveness holds up and how the recovery holds up after that.
Q: On his progression from when he first tore the Achilles till now:
Bryant: Everybody was really concerned about this injury, and so was I, but the procedure and the therapy right afterwards and things like that really got me ahead of the curve so, it feels like the hard part’s over.
Q: On jumping off the diving board in his Vine video:
Bryant: That was fun. I got out and I jumped again. I just didn’t Vine that one. I felt great. I just wanted to go out and have fun. I was going to do a flip, but I said, ‘Nah, I probably shouldn’t.’
Q: On how far along he is in his rehab:
Bryant: I’m not really sure how to answer that question. I feel good. I don’t think we really have a particular timetable as far as where I should be right now, but I’m feeling good.
Q: On how of this injury is more mental compared to the physical aspect of it:
Bryant: The mental aspect of it I don’t concern myself too much with. I can’t do anything about it. If I’m going to hurt something, I’m going to hurt something so I don’t waste my time really thinking about that. But, I do need to get in shape. I will get in shape. It doesn’t take me too long to do that. I really work hard at it and when I get back out there on the court, I’ll be good to go. I don’t think I’ve ever really played a season where I’m 100 percent, so, 78 (percent) is fine.
Q: On if he’ll wait till he sees his team needs him or will he completely wait till he’s ready to go:
Bryant: I’ll wait until I’m ready and then I’ll get out there and go. Like I said, expectations are to win a championship. That’s our expectations. So, if we’re struggling and I can’t go because I’m not physically ready, I’m not going to jump out there. If it’s ready, I’ll be out there. If it’s not, I won’t.
Q: On the next step for him in his rehab:
Bryant: Getting out and doing some defensive work and doing some running on the court. Kind of doing conditioning a little bit.
Just doing some of the ladder drills, I’ve been on the court a little bit. But nothing more besides that.
Q: On if he’s off the AlterG (anti-gravity) treadmill yet:
Bryant: Not running full sprints. Not yet.
Q: On if he’s drawn any inspiration from athletes who have dealt with a similar injury:
Bryant: There’s a lot of guys I’ve spoken to who have had this injury, David Beckham in particular, he came back just fine, won multiple championships after that. So, I can draw from that a little bit.
Q: On if he feels any pressure to return sooner for this team:
Bryant: I’m not really feeling pressure from it. I know what we can do. I feel very comfortable. I feel very poised about it. I think the team feels the same way. I’m not really concerned.
Q: On the numerous offseason additions:
Bryant: We filled the holes we were weak at last year in terms of length and athleticism and covering ground, especially defensively. When you have those guys that have that length and that speed and can close out to shooters and then shut down penetration on the rotation, it makes a big, big difference.
Q: On the importance of the numerous guys returning:
Bryant: It’s guys that kind of understand each other already and then you’re bringing in the new guys, but because of the relationship that we’ve had in the past, we already have an idea of what our culture is. So, now it’s just bringing the new guys into that.
Q: On some of the new offseason additions and what they can provide defensively:
Bryant: I think you got to look at Nick Young, you got to look at Wesley Johnson and teaching them the fundamental skills and kind of the intelligence of how to play angles defensively. So it’s on us to kind of train them up a little bit, it’s on me to kind of teach them various things and tricks or whatever to try to get them to that point.
Q: On him playing more of a vocal role on the bench, like a player coach:
Bryant: I’ve been doing it since Phil was here and as the years have kind of gone on and the more and more I learned from him, the more and more responsibilities he gave me. So now, I think it’s just becoming a little bit more evident because of the injuries I had last year, people see me on the sidelines doing a lot of that but it’s a position that if you’re a leader of a team, you got to do that type of stuff. You got to be able to put guys in the right positions and try to put them in positions where they can be successful.
Q: On what a full training camp and preseason will do for this team:
Bryant: It’s going to be good to have this training camp and knowing what system we’re going to be running, knowing what style of play we want to use. It’s really just about blending the talents that we have.
Q: On how this team, with the personnel they have, will play this season:
Bryant: We’re going to play exactly how we finished off last year: Playing with a tempo that’s right for us. We’re not an up-and-down, run-and-gun type of team by any stretch of the imagination. But, we’ll use the strengths that we have. Pau’s a good post player. I’m a good post player. Steve in pick-and-rolls can be effective. But you’ll see us really dominating the game from the inside.
Q: On if he plans to coach in the future:
Bryant: Nope. I enjoy it, but I enjoy coaching kids more.
Q: On any concerns going into the season:
Bryant: Health is always a concern. That can really cripple a team, as it did for us last year. Hopefully we won’t have to deal with those issues and won’t have guys who are out for long periods of time.